Report: Younger Consumers More Trusting of Self-Driving Technologies


Trust in automation technology in vehicles is dependent on age, as younger consumers have a significantly higher level of confidence in self-driving technologies than older adults, says a new study by J.D. Power, a marketing information services firm with an office in Troy.

“The level of trust is directly linked to the level of interest in a new technology among automobile buyers,” says Kristin Kolodge, an executive director of research at J.D. Power. “Acceptance can be increased with exposure over time and experience with automated technologies. But trust is fragile and can be broken if there is an excessive number of incidents with automated vehicles.”

Kolodge says the study finds consumers are most interested in technology features that make use of the foundation of fully automated vehicles, such as radar, sensors, light detection and ranging (Lidar), and cameras. Features with high consumer interest include smart headlights, night vision, lane change assist, traffic jam assist, medical emergency stop, smart intersection, and predictive vehicle control.

She says when consumers were shown the market value of the technologies, the most desired features were a navigation system, wireless device connection, camera rear-view mirror, smart parking, and predictive traffic. When consumers were shown the value of night vision and lane change assist — which range from $1,000 to $2,000 — they became less popular.

Technologies with the lowest consumer interest include trailer connect assist, trailer towing visibility, and full self-driving. Kolodge says many of the lower interest technologies have specific uses that are relevant to a sub-segment of the buying population.

In terms of trust in self-driving technologies, more than half of millennials (those born from early 1980s to 2000) and Generation Z (those born after millennials from the early 2000s to 2010s) say they trust the technologies, compared with 40 percent of Generation X (early 1960s to early 1980s) and 20 percent of baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964).

She says the one concern all generations share is for technology security, specifically surrounding privacy and the potential for systems to be hacked, hijacked, or to crash (either the vehicle or the system itself).

The J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Tech Choice Study is available here.​